Hawker Typhoon RB396 Project Refocus

The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group was formed in 2016, specifically to raise the funds required to rebuild RB396 so that she can fly as a living, breathing and working memorial to those who operated, flew and fought the Hawker Typhoon during WWII, especially the 666 who paid the ultimate sacrifice. There is currently no memorial to these crews, or the ground crews who worked tirelessly to keep the aircraft flying. That is what we are trying to rectify. 

Our “workforce” is made up entirely of volunteers and a huge amount of work has been required to get to this stage. That must never be forgotten. Without the years of doing what we have done, we could not have got to this point. We have built a public stage and it was hoped that after many years of projecting what we do onto that stage, some serious interest would have approached us to get involved and provide the level of funding we require. 

Unfortunately, that has not been the case. 

The 6th June 2020 was exactly four years from the stated target completion date. When this project was hatched in 2014 by Dave Robinson and Sam Worthington-Leese, two years before the charity was formed, 2024 was ten years in the future. At that point, 2024 was viable. Now, the viability of that target is coming into question.

To stay on track with our 2024 target for completion, we must raise in excess of £105,000 per month, on average, every month, between now and June 2024. With that in mind, now is the time for us to evolve. This development will see us really start to make headway on the fundraising, at a level that will see the aircraft rebuilt and airworthy within the next 4-6 years, rather than the 40 years it might take at the current rate of spend.

To see RB396 airborne in a realistic timescale, requires an evolution of the current tactics.

After many years of effort, it is clear that no matter how much we stand on our stage and bang our drum, that high level funding will not come to us, nor will the support received from the general public and Supporters’ Club be enough on its own. It is up to us, and us alone, to go out and source that funding. A huge amount of time, effort and research has gone into developing a plan of action for this, because it is so important. After a very successful meeting with the Bomber Command Memorial fundraising team leader, the importance of what we, the Trustees, have been trying to do for a number of months has been reaffirmed. We absolutely must only focus our limited time and resources on efforts that will bring us high levels of funding as a reward. 

From this moment forward we will be focusing almost all of our efforts on the core task of tracking down, researching, and approaching individuals and/or companies who are in a position to make substantial contributions to the project. This is a considerable amount of work. There are thousands of potential contacts to be found, researched and prepared. Realistically, we are aiming to search for those in a position to contribute thousands, tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pounds. It is with this level of contributions, when added to the contributions that we receive from dedicated Supporters’ Club members, that the rebuild can really accelerate. Without one, or the other, it cannot.

The team behind the Bomber Command Memorial successfully raised £7million, their sole focus was large scale fundraising as opposed to the large number of smaller scale items. Image: RAFBF.

The core activities of the project will continue, but only to compliment the wider fundraising aim. Things like:

  • the shop in its current format, 
  • the Supporters’ Club, 
  • a scaled down Social Media presence, 
  • the website, 
  • ongoing research, 
  • maintaining the premises in good order, 
  • accounts & finance,
  • specific large scale fundraising events such as the forthcoming Black Tie gala. 

Some of our other activities will scale down or stop, until the funding is secured. We will no longer be attending any airshows with the current format, there will be no new products designed for the shop and we will not be putting on travelling talks or events at our Uckfield base. The one exception to that is our most popular day of the year with club members, that is our anniversary Supporters’ Club Members’ Day in October. That will remain in order to give Supporters’ Club members who have directly contributed the opportunity to come and see the project. There may also be a handful of Supporters’ Club members’ visits, such as the one in March to Airframe Assemblies, but only when time is available to not detract from the main fundraising effort. 

The reason for scaling back some of our activities is simple, it is to pool our limited resources and focus as much of our time as possible on tracking down and securing large investment. Because without that further investment, we cannot progress the rebuild. 

The new team responsible for overseeing this activity is called the Fundraising Development Team (FDT) and reports directly to the Trustees. Even in its embryonic form, in existence for just about a month and with only a handful of team members, it has already raised just shy of £100,000. This contribution was from a gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous, but to whom we are indebted, as for the first time ever, we have raised in excess of £105,000 per month, for the month of June. His contribution came as a result of the FDT following its process. That we have been able to have such a result, so soon, shows how important it is to refocus in this way. To put this into perspective, that one donation is worth more to the project in terms of funds raised, than the revenue from every airshow we have attended in the last three years combined. The only way to continue this success is to focus all available time on this sole endeavour – hence the need to reduce some of our other activities. All team members on the project now have the work of the FDT as their main focus.

This contribution has allowed for us to plan for the rebuild work on RB396 to recommence very soon. It has also allowed for an increased spend which will make up for the lost months since the rebuild was paused in March. When coupled with funds raised from Platinum Club memberships since 1st April, it is almost enough for us to complete the work on the rear fuselage. Not quite, but almost. We now need to focus every possible hour of volunteer time on this endeavour, in order to make it a success.  

Only with further high level funding can the rebuild of Hawker Typhoon RB396 continue and more images such as this become commonplace. 

We very much hope that you find comfort in knowing how hard the project team is working on your behalf, to raise the funds required to rebuild RB396. Raising £5 million does not happen overnight and requires a huge amount of effort, sacrifice and hard work. But it will happen if we refocus accordingly. 

Perhaps you are reading this now and are in a position to make a contribution. Perhaps you know someone who is in that position. Perhaps you have been watching, waiting for the right time. Now is most certainly that time. If you are in a position to make a contribution then please do get in touch. You may well have questions about where that money might go, how it might be handled, what you get in return and so on. Those are all questions we are expecting and of course, we are more than happy to answer them. There is no better time than now to step aboard and help progress this rebuild to the next level. 

We are incredibly positive about the direction in which the project is moving and we look forward to bringing you some more good news in the near future.

To get in touch with us to speak about making a contribution to help the project stay on track, please use the contact form on this website, and mark your communication as “FAO Fundraising Director”. 

We all want to see RB396 take to the skies, in a realistic timescale. This refocus of our limited resources is the only way to achieve that.